Meeting of Perot group attracts 75

July 25, 1993|By Donna E. Boller | Donna E. Boller,Staff Writer

Beth Hastings is a Westminster homemaker who has never been active in politics. But she came to an organizational meeting yesterday for a Carroll County chapter of Ross Perot's United We Stand America.

"I wanted to see if there is a group that can make a difference," Ms. Hastings said.

Richard Henry, a retiree and part-time farmer from Manchester, would like to see the two major political parties "quit arguing among themselves and work for America."

Steve McCalmont, a Westminster resident who works for an engineering company, liked Mr. Perot's comments on the need to cut government spending. So he joined UWSA.

The nascent Carroll chapter is part of a national network of grass-roots groups linked to UWSA headquarters in Dallas. The organization's literature describes it as a nonpartisan effort to involve citizens in their government and as a nonprofit corporation "dedicated to bringing about the necessary reforms in our nation's economy, government and election laws."

The meeting attracted about 75 county residents, short of the 200 that organizers had hoped to see. But Evelyn Zagami of Finksburg, who telephoned many of the county's 600 UWSA members to urge them to attend, said she was pleased by the turnout.

"Maybe we were a little too optimistic," Mrs. Zagami said.

Richard F. Will Sr., the interim leader of the Carroll organizing effort, had worked the polls in Manchester for Mr. Perot in 1992. Mr. Will, president of the Carroll County chapter of Vietnam Veterans of America, said Mr. Perot "really appreciates the veteran" and has been working for years on the issue of prisoners of war and servicemen and women reported missing in action.

Mr. Perot's organization attracts middle-class Americans who pay taxes and work to put their children through school and feel disenfranchised, said Joan Vinson, UWSA's Maryland director. "The Perot voter is a very disgruntled voter," she said.

Questions Ms. Vinson heard from local residents ranged from why Mr. Perot dropped out of the 1992 presidential election to how the organization will deal with candidates at the national level to whether UWSA's Maryland chapter will run candidates for state and local offices.

One man criticized the county government's plan to expand the airport, saying he did not see why Carroll County needs an airport.

"I think we need to start a third party," he said.

That's not the plan at the moment, Ms. Vinson said. She said that because of its tax-exempt status, the state chapter cannot field candidates but will seek to influence national legislation and to keep tabs on how well members of the state's congressional delegation keep the promises they made in the 1992 election. She encouraged the local group to sponsor forums for local candidates.

County UWSA groups are being organized by congressional district. Sam Powell of Hagerstown, interim director of UWSA in Maryland's 6th Congressional District, said Frederick County has active UWSA chapter that meets monthly and has a "Perotmobile" on the road. Washington and Carroll counties have had initial meetings. Mr. Powell is trying to set up a meeting in Cumberland for residents of Allegany and Garrett counties.

Ms. Vinson said UWSA doesn't want to become an "insider" organization like the major political parties but needs influence to accomplish its goals.

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